UK gov't plans huge database of e-mails and phone calls

Government could track all emails and phone calls made in the UK

The UK government could track all emails and phone calls made in the UK, if its plans for a vast centralized database go ahead.

The plans may be included in the draft Communications Data Bill, under which the government has proposed better policing of data, including that on IP networks, in the interests of national security.

The government said in a statement that it needed to keep up with changes in technology so that it could better track communication.

"We are at the very early stages of deciding how to update the law to allow public authorities to continue to obtain and have access to communications data essential for counter-terrorism and investigation of crime purposes," it said.

"Losing the ability to use this data would have very serious consequences for law enforcement and intelligence gathering in the UK."

Ministers have not yet made a decision on whether a central database will feature in the bill.

Jonathan Bamford, assistant Information Commissioner, said that if all the records were held on one database, it "may well be a step too far."

"We are not aware of any justification for the state to hold every UK citizen's phone and internet records. We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable." Safeguards would need to be in place to govern who can access the data, he said.

He also raised questions over the security of the data: "Holding large collections of data is always risky; the more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen."

Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesperson, called the plans "an Orwellian step too far", adding: "Given the appalling track record of data loss, this state is simply not to be trusted with such private information."

Shadow home secretary David Davis agreed: "Given [ministers'] appalling record at maintaining the integrity of databases holding people's sensitive data, this could well be more of a threat to our security than a support."

But while the government is moving to better track communications data, it once again missed an opportunity to express commitment to a dedicated e-crime unit when it launched the Communications Data Bill.

A proposal for a 50-strong, £5.3 million unit that would focus on investigating and fighting internet crime, was made last year but is still awaiting a response from the government.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Leo King

Computerworld UK
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?